Jeff O’Brien is an art historian and curator who oversees the Image Resource Center, including the Center for Object-Based Research and Learning, and the Digital Image Lab, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an experienced researcher, having worked with numerous archives and collections in the Middle East (among others, Arab Image Foundation, Ashkal Alwan, Institute for Palestine Studies, and Sursock Museum, Beirut, The Palestinian Museum, Ramallah, and Darat al Funun, Amman). His research examines contemporary lens-based practices in the Middle East, (specifically, the recuperation, repair, and reclamation of images from archival sources), and the wide-ranging forums in which these images are displayed and deployed (from exhibitions to human rights venues such as the UN). This practice incorporates digital humanities methods and related technologies, including digital exhibits, artificial intelligence and GIS. He is currently exploring how nascent image-based technologies that deploy deep learning and neural network models as a form of generative AI can be utilized in an ethical manner (e.g. the computer vision technologies DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion). O’Brien has also worked with machine learning technologies such as TensorFlow and PixPlot, which uses a convolutional neural network, to query and visualize aesthetic and formal parameters within large series of images.

While at UBC, he was a Liu Scholar and curator at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, an interdisciplinary research hub for emerging global issues in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and he was supported by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowship. From 2018 to 2019, he was the fellow-in-residence of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan.

In addition to publishing widely, he is on the editorial board of the journal Afterimage, and has presented his work and given lectures in Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Canada.

jffobrn [at]